Religious schools create ‘parallel societies’, report claims

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Vienna has roughly 150 Muslim kindergartens and the report's lead author believes at least a quarter have the backing of ultra-conservative groups: PA

Religious schools in Austria help create “parallel societies”, a new report has claimed.

The Vienna University study found 10,000 children aged between two and six attend a Muslim preschool. However, lead author professor Ednan Aslan has claimed some preschools could be responsible for producing the homegrown terrorists of the future.

Vienna has roughly 150 Muslim kindergartens and Mr Aslan believes at least a quarter have the backing of ultra-conservative groups.

"Parents are sending their kids to establishments that ensure they are in a Muslim setting and learn a few suras (chapters from the Koran)," Mr Aslan of Vienna University told AFP.

"But they are unaware that they are shutting them off from a multicultural society.”

However many are sceptical of Mr Aslan’s findings and have called into question his methodology.

One local magazine sent an undercover reporter to 14 Muslim schools and found no evidence to back up Mr Aslan’s claims.

However, a third of the schools visited were identified as “problematic” by the magazine and could be seen to be “cutting off or isolating children” from mainstream society.

Vienna officials have now commissioned a second report to verify the claims, which will be published later in the year.

It came as Austria’s coalition government promised to ban Muslim face-covering veils in January in an attempt to counter the rise of the far-right Freedom Party.

The anti-Islam Freedom Party (FPO) has topped opinion polls for months, boosted by the influx of more than a million migrants into Europe in the past two years and concerns over their impact on jobs and security.

In December, the FPO candidate came close to winning Austria’s presidential election.

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